Just did some checking on MyHTPC. Looks like its going pay for version 2. The developer Pablo, lost his job. I was hoping for some great things out of that app. It had a long way to go before I'd spend money on it, but it was a very nice start.
<rant>wow this majorly sucks, as most of the myhtpc version 1 components have been reused in v2, and those components were created by the community, I can not imagine everyone being happy about this. Judging by the screenshots, there isn't even support for TV, which was the flakiest part, but the most important part.
I would rather purchase software which has proven itself (snapstream, sage, mythtv) than invest in something like this. I feel bad for him losing his job, but he should just looked for a new job instead of living of the community which supported him and brought the product to the level it is now.</rant>
I'm waiting to see what's going to happen. I've stopped following the boards at www.myhtpc.net because things seemed to be up-in-the-air and I've got other stuff I want to pay attention to. It looks like things are starting to be clarified and I should probably go take a look again.
I really like myhtpc (v1) but it's definitely not for the novice user - there are plenty of things I've played with that I don't really have working yet.
Now, having said that I like it, I don't really use it for anything. A lot of the things that people like on myhtpc, I do different ways. I use HS for things like weather. Music is handled by winamp and browseamp (I don't bother with an HS link). I don't view pictures on my tv (and if I want to, I can use the MediaMVP).
The one thing I really do need is decent PVR software that will work on my living room computer (a miniITX). There are plenty of options, I just haven't figured out exactly what I want to do yet.
I'm going to wait and see what happens with myhtpc before I make a judgement. If it goes the way Pablo is talking, at least it will be easy to expand.
The miniITX machine has been running XP for a while now. It's actually doing a pretty good job recording TV (which I never get around to watching anyway). I'm using a Hauppauge 250 card (works great with miniITX) and Hauppauge's so-so software. The recordings are good, but the scheduling leaves much to be desired. The scheduling actually crashes the machine every so often (it's the only thing I've come across that's able to consistently mess up XP).
Only problem with the miniITX - the 60mm fan in the small case I'm using makes a lot of noise.
The PVR250 series is one of the better cards you can get for this purpose, so that's a good choice for sure (I use this myself with Windows Media Center 2004). If you have access to MSDN, I suggest you try Windows MCE 2004, it only works with a few video cards, but the one you have is the most supported one.
Which motherboard and case are you using? I have a Casetronics C147 at work here with 2 CL-10000 motherboards, and the fans are very quiet (but I just ran into heating problems due to the 2 7200 RPM drives in there).
I have an M9000 (highest end available at the time). It's in a casetronic 2699R. I've got a 40M 5400rpm drive in there - trying to keep it relatively cool and use other drives on the network. There's no optical drive installed so there's a little extra airspace - an external DVD drive connected by firewire or USB2 works very well.
No access to MSDN.
The machine is basically stock. I had to modify the case slightly to get the PVR250 to fit. I've also added an optical S/PDIF connection. The motherboard shares the composite video and coaxial S/PDIF connection - you have to select one or the other and I need the composite because my tv doesn't handle svideo. But, both connections are available on the motherboard (the jumper to select the external connection actually has the live signals - it's just choosing which is routed to the RCA jack). I built a small adapter to convert the coax to optical and mounted it in the case. However, I don't think the sound quality is that great - it sounds harsher than it should - and I haven't had a chance to look into it.
Wow, I am really surprised you had room to fit the PVR250 in there, good job! Could you build a special jumper/adapter allowing you to use both outputs at the same time? Are you talking about the sound quality of the recorded tv shows, or the motherboard output?
Talking about the quality of the motherboard sound. I don't remember if it was better before I added the adapter, but it's definitely got a harsh sound to it. This is not apparent in the analog output.
The recorded tv sound with the PVR250 is as good as the cable signal.
It hasn't been that much of an issue to me since I use a different PC for music (with an optical connection to my receiver).
The M9000 has SPDIF_SEL jumpers on the motherboard. It's two 2-pin jumpers side-by-side. On one end, the two pins are tied together and connected to the center of the RCA jack on the back of the motherboard. The other side of each goes to the signal sources for S/PDIF and composite video. These signals are always available (if configured in the BIOS) - all the jumper is doing is selecting which one goes to the RCA jack. I have the jumper set for composite video. You can grab the signal pin of the S/PDIF side of the jumper and run that to the center of another RCA jack. This can be mounted to the case or on a cable hanging out the back, if you like. You need to pull a ground from somewhere to go to the outside of the RCA jack. I did not, but I'd consider getting this ground from the RCA jack on the motherboard (it appears to be common for both signals). Just solder a wire to it on the inside of the case.
In my machine, I built a driver to take the coax signal and convert it to optical. It's powered by the floppy drive power cable (I think I put a new plug on it). I forget what it looks like; I'll need to dig up the schematics. I don't remember if I took a picture of it and now it's burried under the PVR250. The power connection may be what's causing the harshness, but I really think it was there using the original coax output.
I should explain some more about the harshness (I just remembered more details) - the digital output sounds very good when I play a DVD or recorded video. It sounds harsh only when I play mp3s (or other music files). My theory is that it's not a hardware issue at all, or at least not at this level. I think it may have something to do with resampling my 44.1 kHz sources to 48 kHz for output. The DVD audio that's at 48 sounds good - the mp3s at 44.1 don't. Whether this is in hardware, drivers, or my receiver I don't know.
The other digital connection to my receiver (different computer playing mp3s from winamp) does not resample to 48 kHz, it sends the 44.1 kHz signal and sounds really good.
I can be configured for that. I know it comes with samba/smb. In the config file it asks for pre-mapped drivers.It doesn't support my wireless nic, but it does have standard nic support. With it being a linux kernel, I'm sure you can add whatever you want.